With the deepening of European integration, the European Union has come to exert increasingly significant direct and indirect effects on the member states, reinforcing a well-established trend whose origins date back to the very creation of the European Economic Community in 1957. The domestic impact of the EU is particularly important with reference to Italy, a country for which integration in Europe has represented a symbolic point of reference and a widely used external lever for domestic institutional and policy changes. This process intensified during the run-up to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which required major domestic adjustments in Italy in order to meet the convergence criteria (Della Sala 1997; Sbragia 2001; Radaelli 2002; Quaglia 2004a). This article examines the political impact of European integration in

the past decade, mainly focusing on the period after the establishment of

EMU, adopting the theoretical perspective of Europeanisation, as conceptualised below. The next section provides the conceptual framework, and explains how we combine ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ research designs. We then, in the subsequent section, sketch out the broader political context and situate the relationship between Italy and the EU therein. The following two sections apply the bottom-up and top-down research designs to the empirical record. The final section compares the findings of the two research designs, showing how they can be used to complement each other. We find that, in the period examined in this article, the influence of the

EU in Italian politics has been limited – although not trivial. When the Berlusconi government (2001-06) faced high pressure, it tried to reduce it at source rather than adapting to EU policies. By contrast, the centre-left governments (1996-2001) used pressure as a lever for policy change, while the governments of the 1980s responded to pressure by delaying implementation. Party politics – a variable that is often neglected in the analysis of Europeanisation – has affected discourse, the choice of political venue, and the style used by the Italian policy makers to handle EU policy and politics.